Our French friend S thought that both El Yunque and Guánica, two of Puerto Rico’s forests, were cases of “false marketing” – El Yunque is a tropical rainforest but it didn’t rain when she was there, and in Guánica, the subtropical dry forest, it actually rained! Well, despite it not raining all the time in El Yunque, it is always very humid, and the very little rain we experienced in Guánica was refreshing in the dry and hot atmosphere. The difference in climate between the two forests is remarkable!
Driving south across the mountains in the centre of the island, the climate and vegetation changes rapidly and arriving to the south coast the green and lush landscape from the north has given way to a dry and flat scenery. O and I have visited the south coast several times, but never the dry forest of Guánica, which has been on my “must-see-in-Puerto-Rico-before-we-leave-list” for a long time.
El Camino Ballena
Thus, when French S was here, we decided that it was time to visit Guánica. It was probably a good time to do our excursion in September, as it is at the end of the “wet months”. It rains about 35 inches a year here (889 millimetres) in comparison to 200 inches (5,080 mm) in El Yunque, only a 2-hour drive away. Since there is very little shade and cover from the sun, I can’t imagine walking in this forest during the hottest months of the year (December-April).
A cactus close-up
A cactus looking worse for wear
A metric sign in the forest – actually not so strange as distance is measured metrically in Puerto Rico, while speed in imperial (miles). The sign is pointing to a famous century old Guayacán tree…
I prefer this old wooden sign, even though I understand that the above metall sign is more durable… but it just looks too much like a road sign
The century old Guayacán tree, which has beautiful yellow flowers when in bloom (blooms before the leaves come out)
A cute cactus
Cute cactus from above – however, I wouldn’t want to accidentally sit down on one of these…
A lizard, or “una lagartija” in Spanish – I am hoping that I will remember the Spanish word now that I have written it down 😉
The flowers of the above plant, the plant dies after it has bloomed
The small information center where a friendly forest ranger answered our questions about the forest and told us that he knew a Swedish student who lives nearby! (however, as Puerto Ricans very often confuse Suecia with Suiza (Switzerland), I am not entirely sure that it actually is a Swede!?)
Quenepa or mamoncillo fruit – very popular in Puerto Rico. I am not too fond of the fruit which has a slimy flesh around a big stone.
After a hot and sweaty hike, it tasted great with a pic-nic – hummus, meatballs, sallad, bread and pita chips (the hydrocortisone cream was for the mosquito bites and not for eating 😉 )
Don’t forget the mosquito repellent when venturing out in the dry forest! It didn’t seem very effective but I don’t want to know how it would have been without the Off….
After the dry forest hike, we ventured off shore to the so-called Gilligan’s Island but that’s for another post…